Though he’s not a household name in UK soul circles, singer/songwriter RICK CLARKE has a wonderful musical CV. He’s been around the scene for quite a while and has worked with people like Jazzie B, James Brown, Betty Wright, CeCe Penniston, Omar and Incognito. He also has numerous hit writing credits – including Shirley Jones’ ‘I’m Yours Tonight’. A few years back he charmed us with his ‘Friends’ tune on which he was aided an abetted by ever dependable Don-E.
Back in 1992 Mr C released his own solo album – now collectable, of course, and aptly title ‘Guess Who?’ . Here’s the back story to the album. In the early 90s Rick was working with Jazzi B and was actually signed to Soul II Soul’s Funki Dreds label. But he had some special music under his belt which he just had to get out there. He was contractually restricted by Funki Dreds’ policy so he decided to go on his own, thus he released the 9 tracker as an anonymous, white label only issue and titled it ‘Guess Who?’
Intrigued? Well you can now enjoy the whole album (legally and at a decent price) via a new Freestyle label reissue. You’ll discover that ‘Guess Who’ is very much an early 90s Brit soul artefact … rough, but-sweet UK street soul sensibilities with stripped-back house, garage and hip-hop flavours.
The whole album was recorded in just a few days at MJB Records studio in West Kensington using a Fostex E16 which, maybe, explains the lack of sophistication. That lack of sophistication, though, is more than made up for by the raw energy and enthusiasm of the participants – with Rick calling in tried and tested singers and musician to help him out.
Amongst the set’s highlights are the stripped-back samba-esque groove of ‘Gonna Make You Happy’, (vocals from Jill Francis), the sweet beater that is ‘Share My Love With You’ (with Imaani out front) and the Gina Francis-led ‘Fantasy’. Amongst the other guests are Mark Antonio, Delroy Dyer, Andre Stevens and Delores who does a great job on the slow(ish) jam, ‘Without You In My Life’.
This ‘Guess Who’ is a nostalgic timepiece and is out now via Freestyle Records.